Complaint

Civil procedure in the United States
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In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons (see: cause of action) that the filing party or parties (the plaintiff[s] beliefs are sufficient to support a claim against the party or parties against whom the claim is brought [the defendant(s) that entitle(s) the plaintiff(s) to a remedy (either money damages or injunctive relief)]). For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) that govern civil litigation in United States courts provide that a civil action is commenced with the filing or service of a pleading called a complaint. Civil court rules in states that have incorporated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure use the same term for the same pleading.

In some jurisdictions, specific types of criminal cases may also be commenced by the filing of a complaint, also sometimes called a criminal complaint, lord complaint or felony complaint. All criminal cases are prosecuted in the name of the governmental authority that promulgates criminal statutes and enforces the police power of the state with the goal of seeking criminal sanctions, such as the State (also sometimes called the People) or Crown (in Commonwealth realms). In the United States, the complaint is often associated with misdemeanor criminal charges presented by the prosecutor without the grand jury process. In most U.S. jurisdictions, the charging instrument presented to and authorized by a grand jury is referred to as an indictment.

Contents

United States

Virtually every U.S. state has some forms available on web for most common complaints for lawyers and self-representing litigants; if a petitioner cannot find an appropriate form in his state, he often can modify a form from another state to fit his request. Several United States federal courts published general guidelines for the petitioners and Civil Rights complaint forms.[1][2][3]

After the complaint has been filed with court, it has to be properly served to the opposite parties, but usually petitioners are not allowed to serve the complaint personally.[4] The defendants have limited time to respond, depending on the State or Federal rules. A defendant's failure to answer to a complaint can result in a default judgment in favor of the petitioner.

For example, in United States federal courts, any person who is at least 18 years old and not a party may serve a summons and complaint in a civil case.[4] The defendant must submit an answer within 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint, or request a waiver, according to FRCP Rule 12.[5] After the civil complaint was served to the defendants, plaintiff must as soon as practicable initiate a conference between the parties to plan for the rest of the discovery process.[6]

In many U.S. jurisdictions, a complaint submitted to a court must be accompanied by a Case Information Statement, which sets forth specific key information about the case and the lawyers representing the parties. This allows the judge to make determinations about which deadlines to set for different phases of the case, as it moves through the court system.

There are also freely accessible web search engines to assist parties in finding court decisions that can be cited in the complaint as an example or analogy to resolve similar questions of law.[7] Google Scholar is the biggest database of full text state and federal courts decisions that can be accessed without charge.[7][8] These web search engines often allow one to select specific state courts to search.[7]

Federal courts created the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeals, and United States bankruptcy courts.[9] The system is managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts; it allows lawyers and self-represented clients to obtain documents entered in the case much faster than regular mail.[9]

Filing and privacy

In addition to FRCP, many of the U.S. district courts have developed their own requirements included in Local Rules for filing with the Court.[10] Local Rules can set up a limit on the number of pages, establish deadlines for motions and responses, explain whether it is acceptable to combine motion petition with a response, specify if a judge needs an additional copy of the documents (called "judge’s copy"), etc.[11][12] Local Rules can define page layout elements like: margins, text font/size, distance between lines, mandatory footer text, page numbering, and provide directions on how the pages need to be bind together – i.e. acceptable fasteners, number and location of fastening holes, etc. [11][12][13] If the filed motion does not comply with the Local Rules then the judge can choose to strike the motion completely, or order the party to re-file its motion, or grant a special exception to the Local Rules.

According FRCP 5.2, sensitive text like SSN, TIN, DOB, bank accounts and children’s names, should be redacted off the filings made with the court and accompanying exhibits,[14] (however, exhibits normally does not need to be attached to the original complaint, but should be presented to Court after the discovery). The redacted text can be erased with black-out or white-out, and the page should have an indication that it was redacted - most often by stamping word "redacted" on the bottom. Alternately, the filing party may ask the court’s permission to file some exhibits completely under seal. A minor's name of the petitions should be replaced with initials.[14]

A person making a redacted filing can file an unredacted copy under seal, or the Court can choose to order later that an additional filing be made under seal without redaction.[14] Copies of both redacted and unredacted documents filed with court should be provided to the other parties in the case.

Australia and United Kingdom

In some countries, (for example Australia[15] and the UK[16] and many countries of the European Community), the making of consumer complaints, particularly regarding the sale of financial services, is governed by statute. The statutory authority may require companies to reply to complaints within set time limits, publish written procedures for handling customer dissatisfaction and provide information about arbitration schemes.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Pro Se Litigant Guide". http://www.utd.uscourts.gov/forms/prose_guide.pdf. 
  2. ^ "Civil Rights Complaint Guide". http://www.utd.uscourts.gov/forms/civilrt_guide.pdf. 
  3. ^ "Pro Se Guide". http://www.nmcourt.fed.us/web/DCDOCS/dcindex.html. 
  4. ^ a b "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - Rule 4". http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule4_1.htm. 
  5. ^ "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure". http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule12.htm. 
  6. ^ "FRCP Rule 26". http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule26.htm. 
  7. ^ a b c "Google Scholar". http://scholar.google.com/advanced_scholar_search. 
  8. ^ "An Examination of Citation Counts in a New Scholarly Communication Environment". http://dlib.org/dlib/september05/bauer/09bauer.html. 
  9. ^ a b "PACER". http://www.pacer.gov/. 
  10. ^ "LOCAL COURT RULES". http://www.uscourts.gov/RulesAndPolicies/FederalRulemaking/LocalCourtRules.aspx. 
  11. ^ a b "Local Rules of U.S. District Court, District of Indiana". http://www.insd.uscourts.gov/publications/localrules.pdf. 
  12. ^ a b "Local Rules of U.S. District Court, District of Oklahoma". http://www.oknd.uscourts.gov/legal/generalo.nsf/0A0713F3B13A3660862570360013F310/$file/civil%20local%20rules.pdf. 
  13. ^ "Local Rules of U.S. District Court, District of Oregon". http://ord.uscourts.gov/local-rules-of-civil-procedure/lr-10-form-of-pleadings-and-other-documents. 
  14. ^ a b c "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure". http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule5_2.htm. 
  15. ^ "Australian Approved Complaint Services". http://www.fido.gov.au/fido/fido.nsf/byheadline/Financial+services+complaints+schemes?openDocument. 
  16. ^ "Financial Ombudsman - UK". http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/alia. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • complaint — com·plaint n 1: the initial pleading that starts a lawsuit and that sets forth the allegations made by the plaintiff against the defendant and the plaintiff s demand for relief see also prayer, process, well pleaded complaint rule compare …   Law dictionary

  • complaint — com‧plaint [kəmˈpleɪnt] noun 1. [countable, uncountable] a written or spoken statement by someone complaining about something: • Our sales assistants are trained to deal with customer complaints in a friendly manner. • a letter of complaint… …   Financial and business terms

  • Complaint — Com*plaint (k[o^]m*pl[=a]nt ), n. [F. complainte. See {Complain}.] 1. Expression of grief, regret, pain, censure, or resentment; lamentation; murmuring; accusation; fault finding. [1913 Webster] I poured out my complaint before him. Ps. cxlii. 2 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • complaint — late 14c., lamentation, grief, from O.Fr. complainte (12c.) complaint, lament, noun use of fem. pp. of complaindre (see COMPLAIN (Cf. complain)). Meaning bodily ailment is from 1705 (often in U.S. colloquial use generalized as complaints) …   Etymology dictionary

  • complaint — [n1] statement of disagreement, discontent accusation, annoyance, beef*, cavil, CC*, charge, clamor, criticism, dissatisfaction, expostulation, fault finding, grievance, gripe, grouse, grumble, guff*, jeremiad, kick, lament, moan, objection,… …   New thesaurus

  • Complaint — expression of dissatisfaction by any person or organization to a conformity assessment body or accreditation body, relating to the activities of that body, where a response is expected (p. 6.5 ISO 17000/IEC:2004, p. 3.9 ISO/IEC 17011:2004).… …   Словарь-справочник терминов нормативно-технической документации

  • complaint — ► NOUN 1) an act of complaining. 2) a reason for dissatisfaction. 3) the expression of dissatisfaction: a letter of complaint. 4) an illness or medical condition, especially a relatively minor one …   English terms dictionary

  • complaint — the initiatory document in a lawsuit that notifies the court and the defendant of the grounds claimed by the Plaintiff for an award of money or other relief against the defendant (Glossary of Common Bankruptcy Terms) The first or initiatory… …   Glossary of Bankruptcy

  • complaint — ailment, *disease, disorder, condition, affection, malady, distemper, syndrome …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • complaint — [kəm plānt′] n. [ME complainte < OFr < complaindre] 1. the act of complaining; utterance of pain, displeasure, annoyance, etc. 2. a subject or cause for complaining; grievance 3. an illness; ailment 4. Law a pleading setting forth the… …   English World dictionary

  • complaint — noun 1 act of complaining ADJECTIVE ▪ serious ▪ common, familiar, frequent ▪ minor, small ▪ only …   Collocations dictionary


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